Friday, April 27, 2012

Ars Animalis | Sue Coe

"I would never judge another human being individually...We are all in different stages of awareness and growth, [but] I am extremely critical of illogical economic systems that put profit over any and all other considerations, especially life." -- Sue Coe[1]

[Animals were there at the beginning of art. But how did we get from Chauvet to "Dogs Playing Poker" and beyond? That's one of the questions 13.7 will be asking with this month's series, "Ars Animalis"—art of the animals.]

Growing up near a slaughterhouse had a powerful effect on Sue Coe. For over quarter of a century, the English artist and illustrator has created overtly political and activist work that sheds light on an issue that society by and large has chosen to ignore: the cruelty to animals in the factory farming and meatpacking industries.

In 2005, for example, she published Sheep of Fools, an illustrated storybook that depicts the horrific and inhumane conditions that occur during the live transport of sheep, shipped across the world's oceans to be slaughtered for human consumption. (For more on this issue, click here.)

Many of her works were created by directly observing animals within slaughterhouses and fur farms. Coe has also tackled other big sociopolitical issues, such as apartheid, sweat shops, prisons, AIDS and war.

In an interview with Graphic Witness, Coe said she hopes that in the future, "animal rights and social justice issues will be more accepted and people will look back on my work and say 'those were the dark ages, when humans used to slaughter animals for food.'"

Coe's work can currently be seen in a solo exhibition running through July 3, 2012, at Galerie St. Etienne in New York City.

Click here to watch the video "Sue Coe: Art of the Animal," part of the "Art of the Animal" video series produced by Our Hen House, an excellent website whose mission is "to effectively mainstream the movement to end the exploitation of animals."

  • Are you vegetarian or vegan? Why did you decide to adopt this diet? [add comment]
  • If you eat meat, do you think about or care where the meat comes from and how the animal was treated? [add comment]
  • If you're a meat eater, have you ever considered giving it up? Why? [add comment]
  • Why do humans treat their pets so well, but generally don't care about the treatment of farm animals? [add comment]
  • Do you think that veganism will ever eclipse carnivorism among humans? [add comment]

  • Tell Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and agriculture minister Joe Ludwi to end the live exports of Australian farm animals in view of the suffering caused by long journeys and the risk of severe mishandling and inhumane slaughter of the animals after these appalling journeys (Compassion in World Farming)
  • Join more than 2.3 million who have signed the Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare (
  • Thinking about a diet that doesn't mean killing animals? Get a free vegetarian/vegan starter kit and take the "Pledge to Be Vegan for 30 Days" (PETA)
  • Support Farm Sanctuary, which works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living (Farm Sanctuary)
  • Follow 13.7 Billion Years on Twitter

[1] Mediareader Unquarterly. Interview with Sue Coe by Elin Slavick. January 31, 2002. Accessed April 27, 2012.

image: Sue Coe. "The Barn Next Door (Man with No Heart)," 2004. Graphite, gouache and watercolor on white Strathmore Bristol board. Signed, lower right. Numbered "Pg 6/7," verso. 10" x 20" (25.4 x 50.8 cm). Pages 6 and 7 from The Man with No Heart. Reproduced in New and Used Blab!, 2003, p. 40-41. (Galerie St. Etienne)

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